Even after death, life is full of paperwork and criminals. Tsuzuki Asato is a 26 year old, happy-go-lucky, and dorky shinigami (god of death) whose job is to makes sure that those who are dead remain dead and stay in their proper realms. Even though he's had this job for over 70 years, he is in the worst division with horrible pay. He also has a knack for not keeping partners (since shinigami work in pairs), but now he seems to have one that will stick around; stubborn, smart-mouthed, serious and defensive 16 year old, Kurosaki Hisoka. With each case they investigate, they come closer to the conspiracies of the serial killer Dr. Muraki Kazutaka. Tsuzuki's relationship with Hisoka is growing stronger and closer...but there is a dark past to how Tsuzuki died that will not give him peace.
Note: This review has been updated to be consistent with my changing views on anime.
Descendants of Darkness is based on the manga of the same name. It follows four major story arcs of the manga. Three episodes comprise each of the first three arcs while the last four episodes focus on the fourth. Since the anime leaves off where the manga caries on (the manga isn't finished either), the ending doesn't really offer a true conclusion and a lot of questions are left unanswered. Fans of the manga might also be disappointed that a lot of the manga's characters are either left out or shoved into the background.
Despite these unfortunate circumstances, I think that the anime more than does the manga justice. In fact, I find it to be an improvement over the manga. While some of the humor and silliness are there, the anime takes on a more serious tone, capitalizing more on the angst, mystery, and supernatural element of the story. The art and music are also absolutely beautiful! Descendants of Darkness has a superb soundtrack which is well worth downloading or even buying! Aside from the characters being beautiful, the monsters and magic are also magnificently rendered. Even though it isn't really a fighting anime, the action sequences should be awesome enough to please those who would otherwise be bored with the drama.
The series consists mostly of fairly mediocre characters, yet it has what I consider to be one of the greatest villains in anime history. Tsuzuki and Hisoka are the protagonists of our story. They are likable characters overall. Tsuzuki is a real sweety despite being a little bit dense and childlike at times. Hisoka has a little bit of an attitude problem at first, but once it becomes apparent where he is coming from, you can't help but sympathize with the guy. Watari and Tatsumi are minor characters who had significantly larger roles in the manga. For the most part, they are just there. They don't really add that much to the anime, but they don't detract from it either. The Gushoshin twins are the only characters that could really be considered annoying. This is mostly because they seem a bit out of place (being two cutesy little talking birds in an otherwise human cast).
Our antagonist Dr. Muraki gets his own paragraph since no couple of sentences could possibly do him justice. He is the subject of much admiration as well as loathing from DoD fans, and he deserves every bit of both. Practically everything he does is just horrific and despicable, but he is so cool and gorgeous and entertaining that you can almost forgive him for being the monster he is. He desires Tsuzuki's body both carnally and scientifically. The scientific reason is revealed later and it gives Muraki's character quite a bit more depth, though you are longing for much more once the anime ends.
While the show isn't technically shounen-ai (gay male romance), it contains a lot of hints and fanservice. It is very easy to read in an attraction between our two heroes. I personally believe in this attraction, but other fans are free to form their own interpretations. Muraki is much less ambiguous and regularly molests Tsuzuki. This lust Muraki has for Tsuzuki is clearly one-sided, but it makes for some rather hot homoerotic material (even though nothing overtly sexual actually happens).
The show masquerades a bit as a mystery series. In reality, the mysteries aren't really any big puzzle. As the audience, we basically know that Muraki is behind everything (with the exception of episodes 4-6). And while the story isn't particularly imaginative as far as anime goes, the characters and the art make it more than worthwhile. All in all, I can't think of any reason to dislike this series unless you're either homophobic or a hardcore manga snob. But we can't please everybody, can we?read more
The first anime I watched with a light yaoi feel, hahaha..Funny enough the fact that it has a slight touch of yaoi makes this anime a bit more interesting than the usual agents-from-the-afterlife-theme series. The opening music is amazing and suits it well, with cool guitar and electronic mix and lyrics that matches the series itself. Its a mixture of dark and humor -- centering on Tsuzuki and his co-shinigamis, who are in charge of keeping the balance in the afterlife by making sure that those who die go to their right place and investigating situations that threatens that balance caused by mysterious deaths that occurs in succession. Alhtough I prefer the manga version more which is longer, this anime is very well done and all the vital chapters are included. Although it has funny situations, the dark side of each characters are shown -- each with their own reasons for becoming a shinigami, whether its for finding one's dark past or for atoning for their mistakes. The antagonist Dr. Muraki is very effective, he's darker than dark, yet charming and comes across as very likeable. For anyone who wants a different yet familiar series to love, this should definitely be on your list.read more
Descendants of Darkness, also known as Yami no Matsuei, is a show I've seen multiple times, yet have not finished it. Which is a real shame, because I cannot review the conclusion. However for all anime I have the belief that the journey is more important then the destination, because some of the best anime ever made, have outright terrible endings. So without knowing how it ends, the journey is great! What a series. On to the review!
While it's not exactly original, I really liked the story. This anime is about a group of shinigamis or Gods of Death, who deal with problems releated to the recently deceased human beings. The problems range from vampires, to mysterious murders, to issues in the main characters past. There is a overarching story, with a great main villian, but it's slowly developed, even though this is a relatively short anime. With only 13 episodes, it still takes it time with the main plot. An approach I liked, but could discourage many. If you didn't like the way "Witch Hunter Robin" handled it's plot, stay clear of this series.
Now this is a dark, gothic series, and I have a soft spot for those types of things. But I really enjoyed this show. From the first episode to the last episode I saw I can say I was never bored with it Now it's not fast paced, or action packed, but instead a character driven drama, with a very thought out plot. The writing is pretty strong though out, and the direction was decent too. Now there are some great action scenes, but this series is not based on action. Some of the scenes are very funny, and it's used to balance out the darker and more dramatic scenes very nicely.
I like the way this series handled the afterworld. It's a complex government bureaucracy, filled with lots of rules, guidlines, and red tape. An interesting take on what's to come once we are no longer of this world. To think after living a life in this world, what awaits us is some more government bureaucracrats! It's a little like the american Live Action movie "Beetlejuice" in that respect. I also liked how it shares similarities with police dramas and mysteries. Perhaps that's why I liked this show so much, two genres I love put together (Gothic Horror and Police Drama!). A lot of the show is devoted to solving the "cases" of the dead, and this leads to some longer-then-you'd expect archs, but they are all well worth the ride.
Now this is a yaoi title. The first time I saw this series, I was in denial for the entire time. As a straight male that sort of thing does not really interest me. However I was not repulsed at all thoughout the entire show. In fact I though the slight yaoi tendencies added to the show. It did not feel like it was pandering to the fangirls, but in fact just part of the show. I still feel like they slipped yaoi into this show without me noticing it half the time, and the other half of the time thinking it made the show more interesting, yet a little unsettleing. I mean what's worse then a villian who wants to kill you? How about a guy who wants to kill you, but first have sex with you? That would scare me to death!
Overall I found the art to be a disappointment. The backgrounds were nice looking but not detailed enough. The animation just didn't flow to well during scenes too. However the character designs were great! I really thought they put a lot of work into desiging each and every character. They look original and interesting looking. My only problem with the designs is one of the main characters, Hisoka Kurosaki, is supposely 16 years old, but looks much older. This was probally intentional however due to some of the more edgy scenes in the anime. The animation really improves during the short action scenes or fight scsnes, and it is during these times that everything on scene is really impressive. CGI is used from time to time, most notably in the Opening Sequence, and while dated by todays standards, looks really good. It looked even better years ago, and in my opinion gives it a nice edge to it other series of it's time didn't have. Still I think it could have been much better, given it's lenght. But it apparently did not have a huge budget. Still I can live with what we got in terms of animation.
The music in this series ranges from average to above average. While nothing too great, everything is listenable. The background music is really good at times, and fits. The opening theme song is really good in my opinion, and very original sounding. The ending theme was a disapointment though in my opinion.
I thought the dub was pretty good, but not without it's problems. First let's adress the acting. This anime is very well acted. Dan Green and Liam O'Brien really outddid themselves with this one. They are some of my favorite voice actors, and this is why. They really pull off every line with expertise. The other actors do a great job, or at least about as much as we can expect. So if the acting is not the problem what is you say? The casting and some accent/vocal decisions made. Some of the actors seem very miscast in their roles, while easy to overlook does not help the production. However my bigest problem with the dub is the accents and vocal decisions. Soem characters speak with a faux british accent which sounds stupid most of the time, and a few of the characters sound like Mickey Mouse and Miney Mouse, or sound scary! While I can't blame them do to the designs of the characters (who do look very cartoony, as they aren't people but do act like people), I have to wonder if there was maybe another way these characters could have sounded. It's not a whipe though. I found it to be pretty good overall, but marked by bad casting decisions and vocal/accent decisions. I place the blame more on the ADR director then the actors however. Still if you enjoy dubs there is no reason not to listen to this one. It's a decent New York dub, very refreshing, but not without some problems. But if you like your subs, your probally better off sticking with them on this one.
All the characters are interesting enough.While it does sort-of fall into the trap non-original characters for it's background cast, it's not really a bad thing in my opinion. The two main characters are likeable and a mystery to us at first. Which means we start to wonder how they got to where they are today, and eventually leads to us careing abou them. Which makes learning about their pasts much more interesting in my opinion. Mr. Tsuzuki is a cool dude, who likes his sweets! The viewer will probally associate with him, more then the angsty teen, Hisoka Kurosaki (I mean unless your an ansgty teen of course :P ). While Mr. Tsuzuki can be childish and playful at times, he is still a mature adult, and it's nice to see such a lead character. He's even a little admirable. Hisoka while angsty, is not anoying. Some may not really like him completely, but I found his history to be very interesting, and well though out. It helps explain his character, and why he is who he is. But the real star of the show is the main villian, Dr. Muraki . He is charismatic, yet creepy. Powerful yet has a weakness. Interesting, yet your scared to learn more about him! Easily the best villian in anime since Vicious in "Cowboy Bebop", and King Hamdo in "Now and Then, Here and There"! He's that good! This guy is freaken nuts, but in a way you think he's totally sane! Well worth watching this show just to see what totally disturbing and morally unsettling thing he does next.
I have to agree with the fangirls on this one! This is a very enjoyable and watchable show! While not groundbraking or remarkable, it's damn good entertainment! I really enjoyed watching this series, and hope to one day buy it on DVD ( I saw it multiple times on Anime Selects On Demand) and finish it finally. Shoujo horror (Hell Girl, Ghost Hunt, Red Garden, Vampire Princess Miyu, etc) always apeals to me for some reason(even though I'm a guy, go figure!), so this review is a little biased. Not to mention I love urban crime dramas. But still I think this show would be enjoyed by anyone, as long as they are not against seeing some slight yaoi. And as long as you don't need action scene followed by action scene, or riveting fast paced series you probally will enjoy this. If you like a good drama look no further then this well written little gem!
Yami no Matsuei is a fantasy, horror, supernatural, mystery created by Matsushita Yoko. It was published in manga form from 1996 to 2003, when it was put on hiatus for eight years, resuming in 2011 and still going. In 2000 J.C. Staff took four arcs from the manga and adapted them into a thirteen episode series. So, how does the anime hold up?
Our narrative opens with a meeting of Shinigami. There have been unusual deaths in Nagasaki in which the victim’s have been drained of blood and left with twin puncture marks on their necks. The shinigami in charge of that sector, Tsuzuki, is sent to rendezvous with his new partner, Kurosaki Hisoka, and investigate. They find out that there's a lot going on that isn't readily apparent and have their first encounter with the villainous Doctor Muraki, which sets the stage for their partnership going into further missions.
The only major complaint I have about the story is the pacing. I will give J.C. Staff credit for trying to cover all the important plot details of the arcs they look at while leaving room for character moments, but it doesn't always work very well. There are several plot elements that get skimmed over or that wind up being inadequately explained or rushed through. One minor issue I had was with the “horror” classification. While there are some dark and disturbing elements to the series, it's really not scary in the slightest. Part of it is that it has a lot of comedic moments that are kind of goofy and part of it is that the characters largely face the dark situations with courage and the conviction to solve them. There are certainly times where you worry about them, but it really doesn't work as horror when the characters have the power ad will to reasonably be able to conquer the problem.
Those issues aside, there is a lot that the series does well. It has a strong sense of dramatic tension, with every arc having some good build up and with the antagonists being legitimately menacing. The humour is also used to great effect. It's used to wind down from tense moments or for character moments before the action starts rising so it doesn't clash with the tension. It also helps create a good contrast between the serious, dark content and the lighter moments. Which helps make the dark moments more intense. As opposed to a series where the characters are always needlessly angsty and it has no impact when things turn serious. The series is also good about treating its dark content with gravity and respect.
There are some really great characters in this series. I do like that Tsuzuki is a largely happy guy since it does enhance the effect when things do go wrong and he goes through a difficult time. I also like that he does know when to be serious, particularly when someone's life is on the line. Hisoka plays perfectly off of Tsuzuki. He's more serious and mature but not to an extreme point. As such, the two complement one another very well. Muraki is the type of villain who is just irredeemable and infinitely hateable. Rather like Tenzen from Basilisk, but more interesting. On a side note, Tenzen and Muraki have the same voice actor. The side characters have some interesting moments as well, although they are less developed. Watari and Tatsumi are both really good characters with some great scenes. The series also does well at developing the characters who need help from the shinigami so that you do get invested in them and hope for them to get out of their situations safely.
The art is really good. The character designs are spectacular and have unique elements to them without being really outlandish. Particularly characters like Muraki and Tsuzuki who have distinctive eyes. The backgrounds have great details and there are some really strong action sequences. However, there is one issue with the action. Some of the special techniques, though they look cool, do get reused without much change. Rather like the special attacks of a magical girl anime, but in a series that's a lot more serious.
There are some really good performances in this. Miki Shinichiro, Brotherhood's Roy Mustang, does a great job as Tsuzuki. Hayami Show gives a very intimidating performance as Muraki. Asano Mayumi, Wolf's Rain's Blue, also gives a really strong performance as Hisoka. Really, there are no weak links in the cast. The music is nice and atmospheric.
This series has quite a bit of yaoi. Some of the scenes are screwed up and disturbing, specifically the ones with Muraki. Others are really heart-warming and adorable. Mostly the ones with Tsuzuki and Hisoka. There are also some other guys who seem to have crushes on Tsuzuki. The content isn't really graphic, but there's certainly quite a bit. The ho-yay factor is going to be a 7/10.
Yami no Matsuei is a really good series, in spite of a few issues. It has a strong narrative, great characters, amazing art, and good performances. If you're a fan of supernatural drama it won't disappoint. My final rating is going to be an 8/10. Next week, horror anime month continues with Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari. read more